Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Easy Way to Determine if You Should Submit for Upfront

I promised that I would post this after Christmas so here is what I use to determine if something I’ve written would qualify for upfront or not.  It’s not as difficult as one would imagine.

After some discussion in the forums, it occurred to me that there are too many people who simply submit without even trying to get an upfront.  Others insist that this is where their major income comes from.  In either case, the guidelines on what qualifies for upfront, while it may have not changed, they’ve at least tightened.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, too many people have noticed a huge difference in the way upfronts have been handled, and it was a sudden shift, too, not gradual at all.  And something one of the staff members said to me makes me think that there is a completely new system being utilized to review content.  Either, or… there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.  All we can do is make sure our content actually qualifies for upfront before we submit.

First of all, make sure you check the guidelines to see if the type of article you are writing is actually one that AC gives an upfront payment for.  This is extremely important.  AC does not typically pay upfront for television reviews, website reviews, opinion pieces, creative writing, etc.  Check the FAQ’s located under “Help” in the top right corner of your account screen.

Second, when you’ve written a piece, take the title and keywords and do a Google search to see what comes up.

Third, do the same type of search but strictly on AC.

Submit your content for upfront only if the amount of similar topics on Google and AC is very narrow.  This isn’t as hard to figure out as you might feel like it is and after you’ve done this a couple of times, it will get easier and easier.  AC doesn’t want to pay upfront for articles that are already saturated on the web and on AC.  As an added twist, even if your topic is saturated, you can focus it (think of a topic INSIDE of a topic), therefore taking perhaps a different angle then most others.  For example, I’ve done a number of breast reduction articles.  Each one has been accepted for upfront.  But how is that since breast reduction is a topic that is common on the web and on AC?  It is because I narrowed the focus of it.  First, I focused on what to expect at a consult, another article focused on how to chose the plastic surgeon, and another focused on the criteria needed for insurance to pay for the surgery.  This format also has added benefits in that you can break up one topic into several pieces, thus increasing your content and revenue.  But even if you’ve narrowed your topic, you still need to make sure that aspect isn’t saturated online.

When in doubt, you can always post your work in the workshop in the forums.  While there are a few people who make the forums a bad place to be, don’t let others’ self righteous attitudes keep you from getting the support you need.  There are many more good people then bad.  Don’t be afraid to take that leap and seek help.

And if you’re one of those people who typically think that you have all the right stuff and you don’t need anyone’s help and everyone should accept your work as is and be ecstatic about it, then sorry, I cannot help you and I doubt anyone else can either.  Not being mean, just being honest.

I hope everyone has a great New Year and may the New Year bring new success on AC!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If You Want an Explanation, Do Not Go To The Forums

Maybe that's a little harsh but the last two times that I've had a complaint or wanted to know if glitches were site wide, I was told by AC staff to notify which ever email address they gave me if I needed to speak about something like that again, which indicated they did not want me posting such in the forums. No big deal, though.

First, the "Content Missing" glitch is something that occasionally pops up. It seems like the glitch is on a sporadic time line. Every so often, when it seems like everything else is going okay, the AC servers say, "Wait. Let's hiccup!" and they do so by hiding our content which hurts page views badly. If you ever have a "Content Missing" message, email the Help Desk. Don't go to the forums to see if it's a site wide glitch. You should only do that on holidays and the weekends when there's no one there to fix a glitch so that you can panic and gripe with everyone else over hundreds and thousands of lost views. :)

Second, if you have submitted content for upfront that is getting declined and YOU ARE 100% SURE that you've done the research necessary to ensure that it is a good candidate for upfront, then contact AC Admin to respectfully ask that they take a second look and why. I've had three pieces of content over the last month that have been declined and that I appealed by doing this. In each case, AC agreed that they warranted further review and I ended up getting upfront offers for each of them. (When I get back from Christmas break, I'll make a post about what I do to research an article I've written to see whether I offer it for upfront or not so feel free to bookmark or follow.) Like I said, BE SURE. If you aren't sure, it's best not to appeal. And if you do decide to appeal, don't have an attitude that your s*** don't stink. Be respectful about it. AC staffers go through oodles of emails and content every day. I imagine them a little like the postal service, ready to explode some days especially with the insults and abuse that is often thrown their way.

I hope everyone has a great holiday, however you celebrate this time of year!